Archive for the ‘meta’ Category

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Meta: Why Do We Need An Animation Archive?

Several people have emailed me to ask for copies of the speech I gave at the ASIFA Lion King Reunion event where we announced the establishment of this project several years ago. Here it is… Please feel free to print it out and share it with your friends.

Hello… My name is Steve Worth and my passion is the art of hand drawn animation.

For the past ten or fifteen years, I’ve been a member of the Board of Directors of ASIFA-Hollywood, and I’m currently serving as the Director of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project.

Before we get started, I’d like to give you a little background on the archive project, and let you know how it relates to the panel discussion you’re about to hear tonight. Most of all, I’d like to share with you why this particular project is so important… perhaps more important now than at any other time in the history of animation.

Sir Isaac Newton was quoted as saying, “If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” It’s all too easy to become so involved with what we’re doing “here and now”, that we forget what came before us. Los Angeles is often spoken of as “a town with no history”. Compared with cities like Athens, London or Paris, that may seem to be the case. But in its short period of existence, Los Angeles was the place that nurtured and developed one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century, the art of cinema… and most importantly to the people gathered together in this room tonight, the art of animated filmmaking.

This sketch was given to me by an artist who knew that I was interested in the history of animation…


He found it in the trash dumpster at FilmRoman, obviously thrown out when someone cleared his desk. The animator that gave this to me had no idea who this was. No one else he showed it to at the studio knew either. In fact, 99.9% of the general public wouldn’t even recognize his name, much less his image.

This is a self caricature of Ub Iwerks, the man who designed and animated Mickey Mouse… The man who invented process photography, enabling live action and animation to co-exist side by side… The man who revolutionized the industry with the invention of the multiplane camera and animation xerography. There are few people in the history of animation who have done more for us as animators than Ub Iwerks did. Yet his picture ended up in a trash can… completely unrecognized… at one of the most important TV animation studios in town. I’m not picking on FilmRoman when I point this out. The same could have happened at any studio, even the one this man made billions of dollars for over the years.

Think about that for a second and let it soak in.

How can we as artists “see further” like Isaac Newton if our collective memory is so short, we don’t even recognize the pioneers who made everything we do possible? This is the sort of shortsightedness that’s led to stories in the press announcing that hand drawn animation is obsolete. Hand drawn animation is no more replaceable by computer graphics than drawing and painting are replaced by photography. Cartooning is an irreplaceable artform, not an expendable technique.

Tonight, we’re here to honor the creative achievements of a team of artists who pulled together to make one of the most successful hand drawn animated films of all time. I would bet that just about all of us here tonight have pretty much the same question on our minds… How can the art of hand drawn animation return to the creative peak it enjoyed just a few short years ago?

Again, I’m going to give you a second to think about that question and let it soak in.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about that question. It’s time for me to build something that ASIFA-Hollywood’s founders, Bill Scott, June Foray and Bill Littlejohn envisioned as a goal for our organization nearly forty years ago… a museum, library and archive devoted to the art of animation… an institution dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting those broad shoulders we all stand upon.

The first step in achieving this goal is the establishment of something the founders of ASIFA could never have imagined… a “virtual archive”… A computer database containing hundreds of thousands of digital files representing animation drawings, model sheets, pencil tests, background paintings, book and magazine illustrations, cartoons, voice over reels, interviews, information and movies… all searchable by keyword. In short, the ultimate artist’s clip file. We all know that the major studios in town maintain their own archives to preserve the documents related to their particular productions, this digital archive will be unique, because it will be dedicated to documenting and serving the people who actually make animated films… the artists. We is in an unique position to be able to pull together a wide range of material for its archive… a much broader scope than any corporate archive could ever hope to encompass.

Tonight, the Animation Archive is just a concept with only a few presentation boards here to represent it… but next time we gather together for an event like this, you’ll see equipment and material on display… a functioning archive, instead of just presentation boards.

We realize that this is a lean time for animators. Money is tight. But we aren’t asking for a great deal from any one person. What we are asking for is for the animation community to pull together to do something of great value for the artform. ASIFA has always been all about recognizing the achievements of individuals… whether through its screenings, events like this, or the Annie Awards. The Animation Archive will be no different. It will be a resource that documents the history of people like Ub Iwerks, and the people who will be speaking to you in a few moments. Best of all, the archive will provide inspiration and education to a new generation of animators, acting as the shoulders for them to stand upon. This is *exactly* the sort of project that will prove conclusively to the world that hand drawn animation isn’t dead.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Note: In 2011, ASIFA-Hollywood decided it was unable to continue to sponsor the Animation Archive. The volunteers of the Animation Archive pulled together and created Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to continue work on the project. Many thanks to the members of ASiFA-Hollywood and its President, Antran Manoogian for helping to get the project off the ground and onto a firm footing as its own organization.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

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Sunday, February 28th, 2016

2105 Year End Report from the Animation Resources Annual Meeting


View on YouTube:

DOCUMENTS – Paul Anderson, Secretary/Director of Documents

Over the past year, Animation Resources has seen significant growth. By now the organization has established visibility within all of the major animation studios in the area. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we have continued to live up to our mission statement, serving both our local and international membership communities with invaluable resources. Throughout this period of steady growth, the Board of Directors has met regularly, kept accurate minutes, and kept up with all necessary paperwork and legal filings to ensure continued stability and success as we continue to expand our reach, both online through our website and social media and in person through networking events and screenings.

TREASURY – JoJo Baptista, Treasurer

As new members continue to enroll and renew their dues, the funds available for Animation Resources are growing steadily. This aids towards the establishment of new projects. The website, server space, and day to day operations of the organization are all currently self sustaining, due to the generosity of our members and valued donors. We are forecasting a gradual but steady increase in our membership rolls, and as the support increases, we will be able to offer more and more services to the worldwide animation community.

MEMBERSHIP- Taber Dunipace Director of Membership

Since establishing ourself as a membership supported non-profit organization at the beginning of last your, we’ve managed to reach our projected goal of 100 members in our first year of operation. During that time my primary duties have included welcoming new members and communicating with them using Facebook and email. In addition, I’ve spent some of my time interacting with members directly both online and in person at our live events, acting as an ambassador for the organization.

My plans for the coming year primarily concern the recruitment of new members. I plan to step up outreach to existing schools and creative organizations, and continue the outreach established in our February membership drive. I also plan to author more articles for the archive website on the topic of learning and practice habits. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to reach membership population of approximately 300 by the end of next year, and to hopefully retain as many repeat members as possible by continuing to provide them with excellent membership benefits and services for their dues.

ADVISORY BOARD- Michael Woodside, Liason to the Advisory Board

During our first year, we at Animation Resources have been accomplishing great things with our screenings, website and animation archive project. My main responsibility was to inform the Advisory Board of all of the information and events Animation Resources has offered to its membership and to report any of their expert feedback to our Board of Directors.

For the next year, I plan on taking all that we have learned from this past year and presenting it to our Advisory Board for their invaluable advice. I hope to gain their insight on how we can constantly improve our message and outreach methods. I also hope to find more professionals who would be interested in supporting Animation Resources with their advice and feedback.

EVENTS / PUBLICITY- David Hofmann, Director of Communications

As Director of Communications for Animation Resources, this has been a learning year for me. I successfully built a relationship with the director of programming at the American Cinemateque, leading to our first large scale screening this last spring. I have continued to be in contact with them to plan additional events during the coming the year. Of course, we also plan to continue having smaller scale screenings, networking parties and events right here in what we call the Animation Resources Clubhouse. To spread the word about our organization, I have also been working on getting Animation Resources into local conventions. We had our first networking party following CTN in November of last year. It was a great way for Animation Resources to introduce our organization to our target audience. Plans are in place for a presence at WonderCon this year to introduce our goals and mission statement to an even larger audience of prospective artists.

As for the goals for coming year, I would like to do more events with the American Cinemateque. I hope to connect with more conventions that we can use to get our name out there and recruit more members. I also would like to to do some non-screening events that allow us to show off our archive collection. One of my ideas is to create a liason with art galleries to make fine art prints available from the remarkable treasures in our collection.

TECHNOLOGY- Eric Jiang, Director of Technology

This year our website was refitted with WordPress plugins to allow special members only downloads by our former Director of Technology, Alex Vassilev. Our immediate goals for the future involve updating the online store and building two automated email lists, one for the general public, and one for Animation Resources Members.


View on YouTube:


When ASIFA-Hollywood and ASIFA-International informed us that they would no longer be able to sponsor our digital archive, our project was in peril of ending for good. But the volunteers who had benefitted from the Animation Archive (and had gone on to careers in the animation business because of it!) rallied behind the project and helped establish the 501(c)(3) non-profit status that was required to continue it. That took nearly two years of submitting forms and waiting for responses. But we were finally granted a charter two years ago. It took us another year to re-establish our web presence, gain visibility in social media, build the technical infrastructure to take dues and organize membership data online, and create benefits of membership that justified the membership dues. In the beginning of 2015, we were finally ready to start soliciting memberships, and I am proud to say that we have reached our initial goal of 100 members in our first year of operation. The membership dues for our first year were used to cover the legal fees involved in establishing the non-profit status, and to back up and upgrade the data servers which were at risk of hard drive crashes. That has now been accomplished, but it was a big job, because our disk arrays contain about 75 TB of data.

In the coming next few years, we have very big plans. We have never thought small around here! When I first started with ASIFA around 30 years ago, the intent of the organization was to create a network of small animation groups all over the world, which would exchange ideas and share their films. The idea was to encourage the communication of creative people all over the world. Of course, 30 years ago, the internet didn’t exist, so creating that kind of network was very difficult. ASIFA focused on creating festivals and events in various locations that were designed to draw the artists to them. But now we live in a different world, and just like Bill Scott envisioned an Animateque long before the digital technology existed to create it, ASIFA envisioned a worldwide community of animators before the online technology existed to be able to pull it off. With the help of enthusiastic support from young artists with much more technical savvy than old goats like myself, I hope to be able to finally bring this noble idea to reality. I would like to establish satellite Abimation Creative League groups all over the world, linked by the internet to share screenings, artwork, information and educational seminars. The first step towards accomplishing this, which we hope to put into operation by the Fall, is to establish a video podcasting system capable of live streaming our events, as well as sharing lectures, seminars and drawing classes across the internet to the worldwide animation community.

If I can digress into a story here for a moment… One of my most vivid memories of running the Animation Archive in Burbank was when I received a telephone call from the State Department letting me know that some dignitaries from Kazakhstan would like to pay a visit the archive. I had no idea why they chose my little project, but I let them know they would be welcome. They arrived with an entourage of government officials and interpreters, speaking no English at all. I showed them what we were doing, and explained our project, stopping after each and every sentence for the translator. They nodded with serious expressions and long beards… but I had no idea if they actually understood what I was saying. When I finished my nickel tour, we sat down and I asked the interpreter to translate for them so they could tell me about themselves. They explained that they were puppet animators and followed the website every day. It meant a lot for them to have access to the information that I was sharing with the world. They asked me why I did it. I wasn’t expecting that particular question, but I replied, “It takes a lot of energy and I have very little money to work with, but I have to do it… I love the art of animation.” The translator told them what I had said and they broke into big smiles and shook my hand. They said that it was the same for them. Since Russia had pulled out of their region, there was no money for puppet animation in Kazakhstan, but their art and tradition demanded that they continue it. Those of us in animation around the world really aren’t all that different.

The next goal for our organization after establishing a worldwide internet umbrella organization is to take our archive project to the world. Currently, we have over 150,000 high resolution images, 1,000 artists’ biographies and 7,000 digitized animated films. All of these treasures are housed in a database, which is keyword searchable like Google. The goal I have had from the beginning for this project is to get this database online for the reference of our members. We intend to house the material in a cloud server, and serve the database itself from our website. Storing this much information online is very costly, and obviously with 100 members, we are a long way from even being able to pay the server bills for such a mammoth undertaking. But I believe if we take it one step at a time, ultimately, we will reach our goal. With the support of our loyal members, and the unflagging energy and dedication of our incredible volunteers, I think we will achieve all of our goals much sooner than we think.


2015 Certificate of Merit Honorees

Beatrice Guo
James Sanders
Benny Mercader
Nicholas John Pozega (Accepted by Paul Anderson)

Our organization wouldn’t exist without the faithful support and hard work of our volunteers. This year, four volunteers stood out because of their skills, dedication and accomplishments. James Sanders, Beatrice Guo and Benny Mercader tirelessly digitized and catalogued tens of thousands of images, and organized and processed our video collection for inclusion in the Archive Database. Nicholas John Pozega curated an invaluable Flickr gallery of animation reference and promoted our presence in social media. The Board of Directors of Animation Resources expresses our appreciation to these remarkable volunteers and thanks them for their wonderful work.

Special thanks to our good friend Antran Manoogian for manning the iPhone to capture these reports on video!

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Thursday, February 25th, 2016

About The Animation Archive Project

Animation Resources

The Genesis of the Project

Animation In BurbankAnimation In BurbankIn 1982, Stephen Worth was a student at UCLA studying design. He attended an event hosted by The International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood and had the opportunity to speak with the organization’s President, the legendary cartoon Producer, Story Man and Voice Artist, Bill Scott. Scott shared with Worth an idea he was nurturing. He described his plans to create an “Animateque”- a research facility for animation professionals and students. Steve never forgot that meeting. “The resources weren’t there to pull it off during Bill’s tenure as President of ASIFA-Hollywood. But a few years ago, I remembered Bill’s idea and realized that computers had made organizing educational material much easier. The concept of a “digital Animateque” excited me. I guess you could say that when Bill passed away, his passion for the idea was transferred to me.”

Bullwinkle J Moose

Bill Scott, the voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose, came up with the original idea of an “Animateque” devoted to the art of animation.

After 20 years as an animation Producer, Stephen Worth decided it was time to give back to the muse. He went to work full time at ASIFA-Hollywood to try to build support for Bill’s concept of the Animateque. “The animation business is in dire need of inspiration and new ideas,” Worth explains. “I kept reading in the trades that traditional animation techniques were dead and artists would soon be replaced by technology. But I know from working with innovative filmmakers like Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi that the principles that created Pinocchio and Bugs Bunny are the same ones that will lead new technologies to the same heights reached in the ‘golden age’ of animation. The technology is just a tool. The artist is the one who creates. We need to invest in artists.”

Stephen Worth assists artists at the archive.

Katie Rice, Stephen Worth and David Gemmell refer to artwork in the collection of Animation Resources. (photo: Lori Shepler)

Almost overnight, Worth established a world class facility for self-study and research into the art of animation. Housed in a storefront in Burbank, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive provided information, digitized animated films, assembled biographical information and prepared high resolution scans of artwork for use by countless animators, educators, art students and researchers. The facility became world famous through its exhaustive website and extensive collection of material from the personal files of legendary animators like Grim Natwick, Les Clark, Michael Lah, Herb Klynn and John Kricfalusi. A dedicated group of volunteers worked tirelessly digitizing and cataloguing the material, guaranteeing that future generations will be able to benefit from the valuable information.

Natwick's Assistant Chuck Jones

Studio gag drawing of Grim Natwick at the Ub Iwerks Studio with his "kid assistant" Chuck Jones. Jones would go on to become one of the most influential directors in the history of animation.

In January of 2011, ASIFA-Hollywood informed Worth that regrettably they were no longer able to sponsor his project. Worth wasn’t willing to let Bill Scott’s dream end there, so he scrambled to create a permanent organizational umbrella for the collection. He established Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) California non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging animation education. The core of Animation Resources’ offerings is Stephen Worth’s valuable research and curation efforts and the generous efforts of the dozens of dedicated volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to creating this resource.

Do You Know This Man?

Ub IwerksUb IwerksThough few would recognize his name, and even fewer his face, nearly every person on earth knows of this man’s work. This is Ub Iwerks, the man who created Mickey Mouse.

This self portrait from 1931 was found in a trash can at a local TV cartoon studio. No one knows how the drawing got there and no one at the studio could identify him. At a reunion of animators from the most successful animated feature of recent times, this sketch was shown to a hall full of employees from the studio this man made famous- not a single person recognized him.

Read more about Why We Need an Animation Archive.

About the Collection

Mary BlairMary BlairThe archive database of Animation Resources consists of biographical information, images and filmographic data culled from from a variety of sources. In a remarkably short span of time, the collection grew to contain over 6,000 digitized animated films and over 125,000 high-resolution images. These assets are searchable by keywords, and all of the data is cross-linked within the database structure.

This means that it is possible to search for an artist’s name and find his biography and filmography, then click through to watch a digitized movie file of a film he worked on. One more click reveals animation drawings by that artist from that particular film. “It’s a way of organizing information that’s never been attempted before,” says Worth. At this point, the database is not available on the internet, but plans are in the works to build the infrastructure required to share the entire collection online with the world.

Gustaf Tenggren
In the "golden age" of animation, production designers didn’t look to other cartoons for inspiration on how their films should look… they looked to classic illustration, like that of Gustaf Tenggren. Animation Resources’s archive database includes hundreds of illustrated children books, each one bursting at the seams with new ideas for how animated films can look.

Eldon DediniEldon Dedini“The purpose of Animation Resources is to be an archive FOR animators, not just an archive OF animation.” Worth explains. “Because of this, the collection doesn’t just include animated films and related artwork, but art instructional material and a wide range of items dealing with the history of cartooning and illustration as well.” The collection is basically the world’s largest artist’s “clip file”- children’s book illustrations by Rackham and Dulac, magazine cartoons by Virgil Partch and Erich Sokol, superhero comics by Jack Kirby and Jack Cole, newspaper comics by Cliff Sterrett and Milton Caniff, drawing instruction by Preston Blair and Willy Pogany… a whole world of inspiration for artists and cartoonists.

Animation Resources

The animation related material in the collection includes storyboards, animation drawings, production correspondence, exposure sheets, publicity materials, production photos, model sheets, pencil tests, background paintings, and more.

Animation Resources

Digitized films in the collection include rare cartoons by the Fleischers, Terry-Toons, Iwerks, Lantz and Columbia studios. “These are primarily films that have never been released to home video. Many of them haven’t been broadcast on television since the 50s or 60s. We’re specializing in the studios that don’t currently have extensive commercial distribution.” says Worth. Animation historians like John Canemaker, Leonard Maltin, Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler have been supporting the project as well by sharing valuable research and helping to acquire rare animated films for digitization.

Chad's Design for TelevisionChad's Design for TelevisionHow unique is the material in this collection? Animation Director, John Kricfalusi writes, “Animation Resources has collected decades of lost cartoons, comics, children’s books, and classic illustration and made them available to cartoonists, illustrators and fans all over the world. But that’s not all. Steve has also given the whole history context. You can trace styles across studios, across different media and back through time to see where artists got their influences and how whole schools of styles evolved. There are a lot of great cartoon blogs out there, but Animation Resources has to be the most extensive. It takes a much wider view of illustrative art and cartooning than my own blog does. I mostly promote very cartoony styles, mainly because no one else was doing it when I started, but Steve shows you where everything came from and how all the styles are interrelated.”

Lotte Reiniger Prince Achmed

Animation Resources’s archive database contains information on influential women animators like Lotte Reiniger, the creator of the oldest surviving animated feature.

A Non-Traditional Approach

A Typical ArchiveA Typical ArchiveTraditionally, libraries and archives have limited access to their collections in the interest of preservation. Delicate paper and film stock requires special handling and cannot stand up to the rigors of general circulation among artists and students. In most archives, collections are donated unsorted by the boxload. An archivist must go through piece by piece inventorying, stabilizing and storing the items before they can begin to be utilized. This process typically takes several years. Once the collection has been inventoried and shelved, a curator is brought in to examine the holdings and determine a contextual format- a book, an exhibit, an article- that will make the public aware of the collection and its importance. Curation can take another year or longer, and by this time five or six years may pass before the public is even aware that the collection exists.

Animation Resources

In the era of YouTube and Google, this is beginning to change. Digital technology removes the problems associated with storage and preservation of vintage artifacts. Once digitized, a film or piece of artwork can efficiently and inexpensively be backed up and distributed, making open access a possibility. Without physical objects to catalog and store, archivists are able to shorten the time it takes to prepare a group of items for public access. This allows the collection to be curated as it is assembled. The curator isn’t limited by the pool of material that he has to work with. He is free to actively solicit outside sources for material that fills in gaps in the rest of the collection and relates to the concepts he is trying to put across. Most collectors are more than happy to share a digital copy of their items.

Storyboard by Louise Zingarelli

Ralph Bakshi, the animator who was responsible for bringing about the modern age of animation has written several inspiring articles for the Animation Resources blog and has contributed material to the collection. The storyboard section above is from Bakshi’s "Cool World" and was drawn by Louise Zingarelli.

Supplementing Animation Education

The Archive DatabaseThe Archive DatabaseAnimation Resources is intended to serve creative professionals and students of the artform who are looking to develop the necessary skill set to become an accomplished animator. These artists have a tough road to haul. They are facing an industry where the quest for technical knowledge has often times eclipsed the need to develop artistic proficiency. Schools and universities don’t have the time and resources to provide their students with all of the experience required to be a professional animator. So they focus on the most immediate and practical elements and expect the students to acquire the creative and artistic aspects of their education on their own.

In tough economic times, the studios cut budgets for in-house training, so the young artists aren’t able to pick up the fundamentals on the job either. It’s a difficult situation, and many students of animation aren’t even aware of the vital need for self-study until after they have graduated and joined the ranks of job hunters. By that time, it may be too late for them to pick up the creative skills they need to be a productive employee in animation.

Animation Resources

Story artist Eddie Fitzgerald offers storyboarding tips to volunteers Michael Fallik, Max Ward and Art Fuentes.

Joseph Baptista, a student intern on the project who is now a professional animator comments, “Doing an exercise for a class at school, you’re not really sure how it fits in functionally and how those principles apply to a real world job. You just do it for a letter grade and you move on. But if you are trying to learn to animate, the best way is to first learn about the principle, and then to try to understand how it was applied through analyzing and imitating the work of great artists.” Worth set out to fully integrate an educational mission into the structure of Animation Resources. Educational material is accompanied by contextual information to help a student fully understand and absorb it and is accompanied by real-world examples of the principles in use. Through self-study, a student learns to recognize principles among the art in the vast collection and, with practice and determination, begins to master the techniques for themselves.

Animator  Carlo Vinci

The family of legendary animator, Carlo Vinci has been sharing artwork from Vinci’s fifty year career in animation. The collection includes a number of class assignments from his studies at the prestigious National Academy of Design, documenting the education of a golden age animator.

Byrnes on SketchingByrnes on SketchingThe animators who created the classic cartoons of the 1930s and 40s did not attend animation schools. They studied fine art- life drawing, sculpting, and painting- and learned the nuts and bolts of animation after graduation on the job. In those days, animators were trained as a part of apprenticeship systems. An experienced animator would take fledgling artists under his wing and train them to assist his scenes as they worked their way up the ladder of production. A young artist would start as an assistant, then graduate to animator, and perhaps eventually to director, learning as he worked.

National Academy of Design in the 20s

Students at the National Academy of Design in the early 1920s. Traditional art studies from the past form the foundation for artists of the future.

However, changes in the business environment in animation in the 1960s and 70s stopped this system in its tracks. Studios were downsizing and sending work overseas. Experienced “old timers” who possessed the accumulated knowledge of decades of experience were retiring without passing along their techniques to the next generation. By the mid 1970s, it looked as if animation was a dying artform in the United States. A few animators, most notably Eric Larson, Ralph Bakshi and Richard Williams refused to let the artform die, and acted as a bridge across the gap, instituting training programs at the studios where they worked. Most successful animators today who got their start in the early 1980s have one of these three men to thank for their careers.

Bill Nolan Cartooning Self Taught

In the 21st century animation business, the employment of an animator only lasts the life of the project, and the ladder of upward mobility is either weak or non-existent. Art schools have largely shifted towards a “trade school” approach, focusing on technical skills like proficiency in Flash and Maya instead of classical art training. This leaves young animators without a means of developing their craft and growing as an artist. Animation Resources steps into the breech, acting as an adjunct to animation schools and training programs, encouraging students to begin an organized program of creative self-study early on so they will be prepared when the time comes to find a job in the industry.

Preston Blair's Animation

Animation Resources hosts an online drawing course led by John Kricfalusi based on Preston Blair’s "Advanced Animation".

“Everything an animator needs to know is in those old films and sketches.” Worth explains. “The great animators of the past may no longer be with us, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still learn from them. It doesn’t matter if artists animate using a pencil or a computer. The fundamental principles are the same. All a student of animation today needs is access to the material, a mind for analyzing what makes a scene work, and lots and lots of practice.” Animation Resources is trying to help fill the gap by providing a facility for artists to study core art skills and encouraging them to carry the art form forward.

Mickey Mouse Poster Design

Animation Resources’s archive database contains many one-of-a-kind treasures from the estates of legendary animators like Les Clark and Grim Natwick.

Future Plans

You might wonder where the funding to accomplish all of the things Animation Resources is doing is coming from. “We’re very much flying by the seat of our pants.” Worth admits. “Thankfully, there are a lot of great people who believe in this idea who are willing to support it through individual donations. The student volunteers are enthusiastic too and are willing to roll up their sleeves and make it happen. Everything is on an achievable level and momentum is building to allow us to take on even more in the future.”

Milton Caniff in his studio

Milton Caniff at work in his studio in the late 40s. The estate of Caniff, the creator of Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates, has shared original artwork and biographical material with Animation Resources.

rotoscoperotoscopeThe full collection is not yet able to be shared online, but a wonderful selection of images and information are available on the Animation Resources blog, which can be found at The website contains thousands of images and streaming videos, along with biographical articles and information on the progress of the project itself. According to Stephen Worth, the blog serves over a quarter of a million articles a month to over 1.5 million unique visitors. “Our web traffic comes from around the world. We’ve heard from artists as far away as Japan, Kazakhstan and Italy who follow our progress on the internet every day.”

There are also plans to syndicate the database to schools and universities around the world. John Kricfalusi writes, “Animation Resources’s collection should be available to as many people as possible. I think it would make sense for art colleges to support it and take advantage of all of its vast resources. I would have killed to be able to find so much knowledge and inspiration when I was at Sheridan College.”

Tony the Tiger

“The next step for us is to establish a steady stream of revenue to fund the sustained growth of the project,” says Worth. “I see in my head a full brick and mortar museum dedicated to animation with satellite facilities all over the world. I’m willing to do whatever I can to make this a reality. There are a lot of other people here who love animation and are happy to help. I don’t think it’s an unattainable goal.”


Classic Illustration by Edmund DulacClassic Illustration by Edmund DulacPart of what makes Animation Resources so unique is that they are so progressive and yet so willfully different from other archives. Their unique vision is encapsulated in a remark from Worth, “I’m not a library science person, I’m an animated film-maker, so I don’t know what normal is for a facility like this. I do know what animators need and how they need it organized so they can use it. That’s what I’m trying to build.” This pro-access and pro-digital approach is refreshing. Animation Resources is clearly designed by and for animators. These specialized artists not only need to understand the basic elements of form, design, and nuances of character performance, but how to rigorously time and structure the creation of their art down to 1/24th of a second. It’s a big challenge and it requires a good education.

Certainly the professional world contains a scattered sampling of people as committed to their medium as Stephen Worth and his group of dedicated volunteers, but it’s extremely rare to find such a concentrated few in any one place. Their passion and co-operation are achieving great things. Archivists and librarians might have a lot to learn from these animators. Animation Resources is rapidly becoming the model of what the “21st century archive” must become.

Milt Kahl Pinocchio Drawing

A rough animation drawing by the legendary Milt Kahl. The animation of the past is being put back to work, educating and inspiring the animators of the future.

Most importantly however is the impact Animation Resources is having on the artform. John Kricfalusi writes, “I hope that seeing some of the incredible work of artists and cartoonists from the first half of the 20th century will inspire us to set our standards of quality higher. This could help spawn a new renaissance in cartooning as more and more young cartoonists discover how much great work has been done in the past and how much potential for variety there is in our field.”

Worth expands upon this point, “What point is there pickling the past in formaldehyde and setting it up in bottles on a dusty shelf? The past should be put to work informing the present and helping to improve the future.” It’s clear that the people behind Animation Resources don’t think small.

Paul Terry's Famer Al Falfa

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Other Articles About Animation Resources

Animation Resources’ Goals and Projects

The Officers and Board of Animation Resources

Animation Resources 2015 Annual Report

KCET: Animation Resources Aims To Build A Massive Digital Archive Of Cartoon Art

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